Growing up in the 80s and 90s I was a Braves/Cubs fan. I liked the Braves cause my Dad did, but I liked the Cubs because my favorite player was Ryne Sandberg. I wanted to play 2B/SS in little league just like Ryno, and was disappointed every time I played LF or pitched.
I collected every Ryne Sandberg baseball card I pulled from a pack of cards or could trade for. I had t-shirts, jerseys, pictures, posters any and everything of him. I honestly could not tell you why at the age of five or six I chose him as my favorite, but I never wavered.
Flash forward to the present. I bought tickets for the Louisville Bats game on May 12, without knowing much about who they played. The night before the game I read a Twitter post via @LouisvilleBats of Ryne Sandberg signing before the game. I had forgotten Sandberg was the Phillies AAA manager and the Bats were playing them at home. I was pretty excited at the chance to meet my childhood idol.
I’m not one to ask for autographs or to hound a celeb when I see them, but I had to make an exception for Sandberg. I arrived at the field two hours before the game started, stood in line for an 1:15 prior to him coming out and yes, even asked for an auto on my Sandberg shirt. I couldn’t help myself.
It’s been a pretty cool season so far as a Cubs fan: winning tickets to opening day, meeting Paul Maholm, winning another pair of Cubs tickets for the May 20th game (which I could not attend, so I did not accept the tickets), meeting my idol Ryne Sandberg and being able to share all these experiences with all you Cubs fans.
And I have insider scoop, Ryne will be at Ron Santo’s induction; as if that wasn’t expected, but I heard it straight from the source…
Since the Cubs are rebuilding, many discussions have been held on who should stay and who should go. Here is my take:
1. Dempster: For teams who are legitimate World Series contenders, Dempster would be a great addition for any team in need of an improvement to their staff. His stock is high at this point, as he is pitching lights out. But he is aging and maybe has two good seasons left. Epstein should be looking to acquire a closer or a highly sought after young SP with great potential.
2. Soriano: Like Dempster, Soriano is aging and nearing the end of his career. He could benefit any team in need of an experienced bat and outfielder either due to improvement at position or injuries. The Cubs won’t get a great deal for him, but acquiring developmental players at key positions is worth the risk.
3. Soto: With Clevenger showing signs of promise, and Castillo serving as a backup, the Cubs could move Soto for developmental players, but more-so to free up money. I think the risk is worth the possible reward.
4. Wood: I really hope Kerry will retire as a Cub by the end of the season. He has shown devotion, loyalty and love for this organization and it’s fans. But his body cannot handle the big leagues anymore. But if he is unwilling to retire, than he has to be sent down or cut.
5. Marmol: He just needs to go and I don’t care where. The Cubs won’t acquire much for him, but Sveum could use a new razor.
I feel sometime shortly before or shortly after the All-Star break that this will be the Cubs lineup:
After some further research and discussions, I changed my perception of the outfield positions. I’ll attempt to explain my reasonings for certain positions.
There is really no need to discuss the infield positions, as many fans understand and mostly agree here. The outfield leaves room for discussion.
I do not believe Campana is an All-Star CF. I feel he lacks power and arm strength needed for this position. However, his speed and presence on base is such a huge asset to this team, he HAS to be in the lineup. I may be crazy, but I would love to see Campana as a 2B, freeing CF for an additional power-hitter.
I feel LaHair would have better success in RF as he is accustomed to seeing the field from this prespective having been at 1B.
With a majority of batters in the MLB being right-handed, I feel speed, reaction and experience is needed in LF. Jackson is best suited here when compared to LaHair.
With all the positions clicking, I would like to see the batting order as follows:
1. Campana/Castro 2. Clevenger 3. LaHair 4. Castro/Rizzo 5. Campana/Rizzo 6. Jackson 7. Stewart 8. Barney 9. P
What are your thoughts?
The Cubs bullpen has caused many heartaches, gray hairs and collective breaths to cease. Dempster and Garza pitched gems in the first two games of the 2012 season, carrying late game leads against the Nationals, while Cubs fans helplessly watched as the bullpen seemingly gave the games away. From this moment on, fans have been overly critical and skeptic whenever a reliever begins to warm-up.
The bullpen is 3-7, with 4 SV, a 3.90ERA, in 80.2IP. Collectively, the have allowed 70H, 35ER, 45BB, 6HR and struck out 61 batters. Most notably, the bullpen has given away 3 games in which the Cubs should have walked away with a win, squandering the lead late in a game. They have also been credited with 4 additional losses when the game has either been tied or the Cubs held a 1-run lead.
To Manager Dale Sveum’s credit, he has given every player on the active roster time to adjust to the 2012 season before making any roster moves. However, Marmol’s latest meltdown prompted Sveum to finally address the bullpen woes.
After Marmol single-handedly cost the team yet another win in a 3-4 loss to the Reds in extras, Sveum announced a change at the closer position, designating Russell and Dolis as a closer-by-committee duo.
Three righties: Dolis, Bowden and Camp, and a lefty: Russell, are now the perceived bullpen rotation. The four relievers have a combined record of 3-3, a 2.37ERA, allowed 14ER, 15BB and 30SO in 48.0IP. In last nights’ come from behind victory, Camp, Russell and Dolis combined for 5.0IP, allowing 3H and no runs or walks. This is exactly how the bullpen needs to conduct business day-in and day-out.
The Cubs batters have proven the ability to get hits and score runs throughout the season, as the team has yet to be shutout. The pen allowed for the hitters to come through late in the game, tie the score and ultimately win in extras. Had the pen been able to perform in this manner earlier in the season, the Cubs could be sitting atop the NL Central, with a record of 18-10.
I would still like to see the Cubs acquire a more experienced closer, one who has confidence and can also mentor a young future potential closer. But for now, at least Sveum finally booted Marmol and I’m certain the front office is looking for trade potentials. I just hope Russell and Dolis can carry the load for the interim.
Here are 10 quick Cubs stats that you may not have known thus far into the 2012 campaign:
- There are 22 MLB players who have batted third in 15+ games; only five have yet to hit a home run, Castro being one of them.
- As a team, the Cubs best day to hit is Saturday (.269 AVG in 3 games) and their worst is Wednesday (.190 AVG in 2 games).
- The Cubs have 12 SB in 9-inning games; four of which have come in the 8th inning alone. This accounts for 33% of all successful stolen bases by the Cubs.
- Although the Cubs are batting only .218 with RISP (6th worst in the league), they have 59 runs with RISP, which is the 10th most in the league.
- The Cubs are the second worst team to bat with two outs; .187 AVG in 182 AB.
- The Cubs are one of three teams who have one or fewer SV (tied for 28th in the league); they also only have had four SVO (tied for second fewest in the league).
- The starting pitchers for the Cubs have allowed six ER with a combined ERA of 6.75 when the pitch count is between 91-105.
- The Cubs pitching staff has allowed 28 ER when there are two outs in an inning.
- When the pitching staff is ahead in the count, the combined ERA is 2.40; opposed to a 7.45 ERA when they are behind in the count.
- The Cubs starting pitchers are one of only two teams to have seven losses and seven no-decisions (PIT has seven losses and eight no-decisions).
The more you know…